Login with your Reed credentials to view all events.

3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

View map

In discussions of social problems, it is now almost inevitable that we refer to systemic injustices,
or systems of oppression, such as white supremacy or patriarchy. But what does it mean to think
of society as a system and, in particular, as an oppressive system?

A number of thinkers have conceived of society as a system, but there are some unexpected
affinities between Hegel and Foucault, two philosophers who are often seen as poles apart. Most
obviously, for example, they have rather different normative evaluations about modern society:
Hegel thinks that it is a system of rational freedom; Foucault thinks that it is a system of
oppression. But despite these opposing normative schemes, I will argue that they rely on a
similar conceptual model about the systemic workings of society. But whereas Hegel consciously
developed a metaphysics to support his conception of a system, with Foucault the metaphysics
has become merely tacit. Making what is tacit explicit, however, raises some serious questions
about what it means to treat such normative phenomena as oppression and injustice as systemic.

Event Details